A FinTech headquartered in Singapore has been granted a license to operate a digital bank in the Philippines. UNObank aims to bridge the financial inclusion gap to help pave the way for all Filipinos to have access to basic financial services.

Singapore headquartered fintech DigibankASIA Pte. Ltd., one of the primary incorporators of UNObank, has received approval from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP)–the Philippines’ central bank and monetary authority–to operate a digital bank in the Philippines. UNObank is the first FinTech to receive a new outright license to operate a digital bank and will be entirely regulated under the Digital Banking License framework in the Philippines.

The BSP has notably granted three digital bank licenses to date–two of which are conversions from previous bank licenses. UNObank is the first financial institution to receive the new license entirely under the Digital Banking License framework.

DigibankASIA Pte. Ltd. is co-founded by three who collectively have extensive experience across banking, capital markets, treasury, lending, digitalization, and technology. UNObank will be helmed by Manish Bhai as Chief Executive Officer, a career banker and tech entrepreneur. Co-founder Kalidas Ghose is a recognized FinTech influencer who led the effort to build FE Credit in Vietnam from scratch and created VP Banks’ digital bank ecosystem. Puneet Gupta, Co-founder and Chief Technoloy Officer, is an acclaimed deep tech innovator known for building cutting-edge digital products and platforms.

The Philippines has among the lowest banking penetration rates in Southeast Asia. The number of unbanked Filipino adults is estimated at 51.2 million, out of a total adult population of 72 million in 2019, according to the BSP’s 2019 Financial Inclusion Survey released in 2020. UNObank aims to help bridge the financial inclusion gap in the Philippines and eventually Southeast and South Asia. UNO means ‘one’ and sets the premise for a digital bank that offers one app and one card to enable anyone anywhere in the Philippines to save, borrow, transact, invest, and protect their finances easily, with speed and ease.

“Long term, our goal is to bridge the gap to financial inclusion,” says Bhai, in a statement shared with TechNode Global. “With UNObank, we are building the first full-spectrum digital bank to service those with unmet financial needs in Southeast and South Asia.”

UNObank is being built on a robust technology stack that includes products and services from highly regarded tech industry leaders including Mambu, Backbase, and AWS. “We are ensuring that the technology we use has the flexibility to create unique customised solutions that will enhance the user experience and add immense value to those Filipinos communities that are currently unserved and underserved,” adds Gupta.

Bhai concludes: “The BSP’s vision and foresight to digitize the local banking industry is future-forward and apt, because ultimately it will help align the Philippines as a modern banking center for the region. We are very grateful to the BSP and honored by the trust placed in our team.”